"Y aunque para las uvas hay algunos nuevos, a los que ya no están los hecharemos de menos."
Mecano, Un Año Mas.
As you may have noted, I love folktales, urban legends, and superstitious traditions. One of my favorite ones is the Twelve Grapes of Nochevieja.
In Spain and many Latin American countries its customary to serve green grapes on Nochevieja (Old Night, a term for New Year's Eve). When the clock strikes twelve guests hurriedly consume twelve grapes. The superstition is that, if you manage to get the twelve grapes down before the year ends (when the last clock chime rings) you will have good luck in the new year. Also, if you make a wish while eating the grapes you'll wish will be granted. If you really want to have good luck you should travel to Spain's Puerta del Sol and eat the grapes there. Alas, those of us who can't afford that settle for listening to Mecano's Un Año Mas.
I haven't found a source for this custom. Spanish Wikipedia says that it started in the eighteenth century either as a way to mock rich people or as a clever grape marketing technique.
In any case, it's a very popular custom and one of the few Latin American traditions that I've seen gain popularity as the years go by. American customs like Santa Claus have taken over the holidays, but there is no American equivalent to the New Year's grapes.
So throughout Latin America the grapes have taken over. People now make New Year's Eve menus with a grape theme, serving cheese tray with grapes, grape tarts, grape skewers, and lots of wine (of course). Martha Stewart has several grape recipes to choose from (I love the grape and couscous salad) and so does Food and Wine magazine (that flatbread looks amazing).
But my favorite grape recipe is (of course!) sangría. I serve this every New Year's Eve (with a bunch of grapes on the side) and it's always a hit.
Sangría de Nochevieja
1 bottle of gold prosecco or cava wine (I know it's heresy but I actually prefer prosecco)
1/2 cup of Liquor 43 (this is a Spanish liqueur. You can substitute orange liqueur or brandy)
1 can of Sprite
1 cup of apple juice
1 sliced, peeled peach (preferably a golden color)
1 bunch of green grapes
1 sliced starfruit
Stir, add ice and chill.
The sangría has a beautifully festive gold color, perfect for New Year's Eve. Enjoy.
Happy New Year!